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Ex-Blackwater security contractor given life sentence for Iraq civilian shootings

A judge advocate office gavel. (Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte/U.S. Air Force)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A former Blackwater security guard has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq that left 10 men, two women, and two boys, aged 9 and 11, dead.

Federal Judge Royce Lamberth delivered the sentence despite pleas for leniency from relatives and friends of Nicholas Slatten.

A federal jury in the U.S. District Court in Washington found him guilty of first-degree murder in December.

In particular, Slatten was convicted of murdering a 19-year-old aspiring doctor, Ahmad Haithem Ahmad al-Rubia’y, who was among the victims when a group of Blackwater security contractors opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisur Square on September 16, 2007.

Two previous trials ended inconclusively. A judge threw out the first conviction and the jury was hung in the second.

Thirty-year sentences given to three other Blackwater guards who were found guilty in 2014 along with Slatten were vacated for retrial.